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home>>family>>financial>>10 thing you should know...

10 Things You Should Know About Credit Cards

by: Terry Rigg

Maybe these 10 items may answer some questions you have about using credit cards. Make sure to check out the link in #1.

#1. Don't Use Them.

Credit cards accounted for 1.3 million Americans filing bankruptcy in 1998. (Reference and some STAGGERING statistics: http://www.ccsny.org/bankruptcy.htm)

#2. If you use credit cards pay them off each month.

Carrying a balance on your credit cards could add up to hundreds of dollars each year in interest and penalties.

#3. If you can't pay off your credit card balance each month, pay as much as possible.

Every extra dollar you pay over the interest charges goes toward paying off the principle. Minimum payments are 90% interest and 10% principle.

#4. Never obtain a credit card based on an introductory interest rate.

Introductory interest rates are strictly bait to get you hooked. After a short period of time the intro rate increases substantially.

#5. Be careful consolidating your credit card debt.

Whether you use equity in your home or find another credit card to lower your interest rate, there are things you MUST DO. If you pay off a credit card you are going to receive constant offers, either checks in the mail or special offers, to use that credit card again. Be sure to cut up the credit card you paid off and contact the company to cancel.

#6. Do not obtain credit card protection.

Many credit card companies offer credit card protection for a fee. This is normally a percentage of the outstanding balance. According to the Federal Trade Commission, (reference: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/alerts/lossalrt.htm) you are only obligated to pay the first $50 when your credit card is used by someone unauthorized. You could easily pay several times the $50 for credit card protection in a year.

#7. Don't keep more that two credit cards.

The biggest reason for this two card rule is that it is easier to keep track of possible errors and current interest rates with no more than two cards. Some credit card companies will increase your interest rate without prior notification. You must look at your statements each month and inquire about any discrepancies.

#8. Always mail your credit cards bills at least seven days prior to the due date.

Currently, credit cards companies are allowed to charge a maximum of $29 for late fees if the bill is not paid on time. With delays in the mail and processing time once the bill reaches the credit card company offices, you need at least 7 days to be sure it is posted on time.

#9. Always protect your credit card numbers from others.

Be sure that you don't allow unauthorized people to see your credit card numbers. It is very easy to use someone else's credit card, as stores are very lax in their security of handling credit cards, seldom checking to see if the signature on the back of the card matches the one on the credit card form. Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you know who you are talking to.

#10. Don't use credit cards for groceries.

Buying things like groceries with a credit card, unless you pay the card off each month, is a no win situation. Buying recurring items like groceries will only tend to increase your credit card debt each month.

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About The Author
Terry Rigg is the author of Living Within Your Means - The Easy Way and editor of The FREE Budget Stretcher Newsletter and Budget Stretcher web site. He has 25 years of experience counseling individuals and families concerning their personal finances.
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